Gerry Thornley on Laumape: "It's a little bit surprising that he's been picked"

He also discussed the inclusion of Jordie Barrett for his first test start

Gerry Thornley on Laumape: "It's a little bit surprising that he's been picked"

Ngani Laumape. Image: ©INPHO/Photosport/Grant Down

Gerry Thornley joined Off the Ball on Wednesday to discuss the third and final test between the between the Lions and New Zealand this Saturday.

The Lions named an unchanged 23 while the All Blacks made numerous changes to their line-up.

Jordie Barrett comes into the side for his first test start and speaking to Joe Molloy, Thornley said: "Yeah, that had been flagged but it's still a little bit surprising. Their hand was slightly forced in that Waisake Naholo hasn't trained all week so they need to shift Israel Dagg back to right wing.

"It's still quite a gamble really for the most part. When you think that Jordie Barrett is only 20 and will be making his first test start after winning one cap off the bench against Samoa in the warm-up match to this series. 

Hurricanes' Jordie Barrett with Dan Biggar of the Lions. Image: ©INPHO/Billy Stickland

"And I think Laumape is an even bigger surprise for me because a lot of people just presumed when Fekitoa was recalled to the squad, he'd start alongside Lienert-Brown. That was the combination they actually used last November in Dublin on their fairly vicious revenge mission to Dublin and we presumed they'd go back to those two.

"Ngani Laumape is very talented, very explosive power-house midfielder with a good off-loading game and so forth. It was his debut last week when he came on for Sonny Bill Williams and he was slightly at fault really for both tries. I think he was exposed defensively for both tries that the Lions scored.

"It's Owen Farrell that drags him a little bit out of position which leaves a gap for Jamie George to run a great line off a pop-pass from Johnny Sexton and he was probably a little bit tight when Owen Farrell throws a skip-pass out to Liam Williams and he shifts it along to Toby Faletau to finish in the corner. It's a little bit surprising that he's been picked."

Former Ireland captain Brian O'Driscoll was in studio and he thinks the Lions have the advantage in the backline

The full discussion can be heard here: